“Watch and Pray”

“ALL the people shall keep the watch of the Lord.” (II Chron. 23:6) “My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning.” (Ps. 130:6) “I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me.” (Hab. 2:1) “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; although it tarry, wait for it; because it shall surely come, it will not tarry.” (Hab. 2:2,3) “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (I Thess. 5:5,6) “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” (Mark 13:37) “Watch and pray.”—Mark 13:33

To watch means that one must be awake. It means to be on guard, as a sentinel. He is on guard because there are enemies close at hand. To watch is to stand fast in the faith. Are we at the end of the age? Do we see danger signals of the destruction of this order of things in which we live? Do the dangers and problems of the world leave us appalled? Or do they cause us to rejoice? Many people say concerning the events taking place in the world today that history is merely repeating itself, and that conditions today are very little different from the conditions that existed in past generations. So we ask, is this the proper appraisal? Certainly, we as truth people have waited long, and our disappointments as to the year of our deliverance may have been many; but is it true that since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation?

Now we are watchers, and we will consider the things our watching has told us. Are we really living in the last day? Let us stand upon the tower, and as watchers see what we shall see, and what he shall say to us. Where shall we begin? We will begin with the population explosion. There are 3,600,000,000 people living on earth today. Millions of these are destitute and starving. Millions more are undernourished.

But in the year 2000—and that is only 28 years from now—the world population will have doubled, and there will be 7,000,000,000 people to feed, clothe, and shelter; and we know that it will take the kingdom to take care of them. Many experts say population explosion and pollution are the most important aspects of our survival and we as watchers, when we see this one condition in the earth, are inclined to lift up our voice and shout that surely this is one of the evidences that we are living in the last day.

The Jewish People

Let us look at the Jewish people. This is a nation that has been scattered and dispersed for centuries, and now in our own lifetime we have seen prophecies fulfilled. Jeremiah 16:14-16 records present-day history: “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, “The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, the Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them; and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.” The Master, speaking, of the days of his second presence, which is at the end of the age, spoke prophetically of Israel as a fig tree, and said when Israel was gathered to her land that the summer of blessing would be nigh, yea, even at the door. And therefore, we as watchers who have watched the fortunes of Israel, in our own lifetime find that we ourselves are living in the consummation of the age.

A Time of Trouble

Daniel, 12th chapter, verse 1, says at that time shall Michael stand up; and then Daniel heard God saying to him, “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” Is this just a passing phase? Will world conditions straighten themselves out? Will things gradually improve? A Bible Student mother whose son, a college graduate, told her what would happen when he came back from college with a sheepskin under has arm. He said that sincere men will turn this technological progress into a better world, with better living conditions than we have ever had before, and it will affect all people, and you will be disappointed in what you have looked for all your Christian life. And she was at a loss to answer. There may be others in that same attitude of mind, overcome by the presumed wisdom of this world.

The Answer

As watchers, what is our answer? It is one thing for local, isolated conditions to improve—that is possible; but here is a prophecy that speaks of conditions in an entire globe, affected, not by one event, but by three events: the time of trouble, the increase of knowledge, and running to and fro; and all three taking place concurrently, in the same generation; in our generation. So we see today, in our generation, Bible prophecy being fulfilled! We are watchers on the tower; and as watchers we will rejoice at what we see; and as we see it we are bound to shout so that all can hear, that Michael is standing up, and we know that we are living in the last day. And that is one of the things that makes us truth people. Jesus said in Matthew 24:7,8, “Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

In 1914 World War One began. We soon found out that it was total war. Nation rose against nation, kingdom against kingdom; never had so many nations been involved in war before. It was a legacy of death! Need one speak of the famines from that time until Bangladesh that have literally taken millions into death? Or pestilences, from that time when the Spanish influenza took 21 millions of lives, 850,000 of them in America alone, or the present epidemic of cancer and venereal disease and drug abuse and heart trouble? Yes, the Lord says, these are the beginnings of sorrows. These are the first of the travails that will bring to birth a new order. And the great Apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 5:2,3 says, “The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child.” The same word translated sorrows in the 24th chapter of Matthew is translated travail in I Thessalonians 5:3. No wonder the apostle said, as we read in the sixth verse, “Watch and be sober.”

Travails a Reality

And so we as Bible Students have watched the travails of this world from 1914 until now, and as Bible Students we know that these travails will soon bring to birth the new order. God’s new order! So, again, we are glad to shout, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” We are glad we know this!

And, don’t forget the United Nations. Not only nations rising against each other in war, but also the nations assembling themselves in an attempt for peace. The watchers have seen nations brought together, kingdoms united for safety and survival; but we know they are brought together to be broken to pieces, as the Bible says. Isaiah puts it that way, and Zephaniah 3:8,9 quotes the Lord as saying, “I will gather the nations, I will assemble the kingdoms.” They may think it is for peace, but we as Bible Students read the prophecy that says it is to pour upon them all his indignation, yea, even all his fierce anger. For the whole world will be devoured with the fire of his jealousy. The watchers know this. And they rejoice! Why, For they know that after the breaking to pieces God will turn to the people a pure language, that they might all call upon the name of the Lord, and serve him with one consent.

Then again there is inflation. Some people think that we have inflation today; but when it really comes, those who have heaped up treasures for the last days will find that neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath. We know this, because James 5:1-5 says so; Zephaniah 1:18 says so. Ezekiel 7:9 says so.

And one more, to give an answer not only to the mother of whom we mentioned, but also because there may be others like her that need reassurance concerning the days in which we live. Jesus said in Matthew 13:39, “The harvest is the end of the age.” And we are living in this harvest time! We have watched the harvesting of the wheat. Luke 12:37 says, “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” And we recognize that this also is a sign of the day in which we are living. Thank God that we have been called at the end of the age in the time of the harvest, and that we have been served the truth at the Lord’s table that we have found spiritually refreshing.

Now the events that we have recounted—and there are many more—identify our generation as living in the last day. And as surely as your fingerprints identify you, and you alone, so the days in which we live have a pattern of fingerprints on the hand of this generation. They have the fingerprints of population explosion and pollution; they have the fingerprints of Israel, they have the fingerprints of the increase of knowledge, of running to and fro, even to the moon; they have the fingerprint of world war, they have the fingerprint of harvest truth. These fingerprints are the fingerprints of no other generation than the generation in which we live. Remember, it is not only one fingerprint on which we are dependent for the assurance of our faith. All five come together on the same hand. There are so many signs that we do not have space to recount them all, but all focus on this generation. Are we children of light, are we watchers, are we on guard? If so, then as we look at the fingerprints that God has given us of the day in which we live we are bound to be rejoicing watchers; for we know by these fingerprints the day in which we are living.


But we must watch, we must be on guard, for other things besides the signs of the times. It is stimulating to look at the signs of the times, but there is something else to watch. The Apostle Paul, under the power of the Holy Spirit, admonished us, as he did the elders of Ephesus in Acts the 20th chapter and the 30th and 31st verses, “Of your own selves shall men arise.” Now, immediately, we note that this is an internal affair. “Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things.” Why should they do that? In order to discount something? Not particularly; but principally to draw away disciples after themselves. And then he says, “Therefore watch.” And remember, he said also, “I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” So we must ask ourselves, Are we watching? Have we heard the warning of the Word of God? Are we watching against all things that tend to injure or divide the church of God? The apostle wept about this temptation in his day. May our watching and our tears be rewarded now.

The church today, as in past generations, has been called upon to watch. And the church must watch, must struggle, in order to maintain her integrity. Sometimes we find that this is difficult to do. Reformers come and make progress, but after their death their followers build creed fences around their idol, and progress stops. History has recorded a succession of such events with which we are all familiar. And this is one thing that even we must watch! And as we watch we realize that discipleship is not easy. We do not become disciples of Jesus Christ cheaply. Discipleship has always required courage. Even Jesus was crucified by popular demand, including perhaps many who but a short time before had heard him gladly. Nor does our generation of the followers of Jesus Christ find it any different. No wonder we have been admonished to watch and pray that we enter not into temptation.

We have been given many exhortations to watch, to be watchful, by our Lord and by the apostles. We will only quote a few of the many. I Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” It says “be vigilant.” That word occurs only this once in the Bible. “Be vigilant.” The Greek word that is here translated vigilant is in every other occurrence in the Bible translated watchful. Be awake; be on the alert; be vigilant, be watchful, because the devil is our adversary, and let us not forget it. And as a lion he would devour his prey.

These are the things that make it worthwhile being a Bible Student; but let us remember that the apostle also said, “Let all your things be done in love.” And he took time to outline what love was in the 13th chapter of I Corinthians. We will never appear to better advantage than when we manifest the spirit of understanding and sympathy in our attitude toward others, even though they may mistake our motives; even though they may see less essential things in a different light than we do. That should not prevent us from manifesting the spirit of understanding and the spirit of the Lord

The Younger Generation

We hold the younger generation in very high esteem, and we can say, Thank God that the vast majority of the young people in our fellowship are wholesome and clean, and have healthy attitudes toward the Lord, the truth, and the brethren. Now some of us older folks may permit emotion and prejudice and tradition to play too large a part in our lives. We try not to, but sometimes we may. Sometimes our older brains do not like to make the effort that is necessary to change our minds, as the path of the just that is as a shining light, shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

The collective practice of religion (Catholic and others) demands conformity to the authority of man-made creeds. But there is a wide gap between that and our individual consecration to God, and the individual right of opinion. And this individual right of opinion, except on very fundamental issues, is the best way to serve in our fellowship one with another, because this grants spiritual freedom not only to ourselves but to our brethren. And the right to express opposite opinions is healthy as long as it is given in a constructive spirit.

The younger generation of this world speak of becoming involved—you hear that expression quite often. They want to become involved, some of them in better government, and some in doing good for the downtrodden of humanity; and all that is good, and fine, and commendable for one who is not called with a heavenly calling. But if you have been called with a heavenly calling, if you have not already become involved we urge that you do so in the greatest involvement that is possible in this world—involved as a child of God in the truths of God’s Word; involved in proclaiming the message of the kingdom of God.

Watchmen Have Responsibility

Now remember that you are a watchman on the tower; and the watchman who fails to shout the alarm, no matter what he sees, is of no use at all! He was not given the job to keep silent on the tower, but to tell what he saw. Therefore, as watchmen on the tower, let us discern the events of the day in which we are living, and let us tell the whole world this Gospel of the kingdom. We have been given to understand the greatest treasure in the universe, the purpose of God. Therefore, get involved, by telling “the whole world these blessed tidings; tell of the time of rest that’s near; tell the oppressed of every nation that He rises to shine a thousand years.”

And as you become involved you will find a sense of happiness, a peace of mind, and a deep communion with God that you never thought possible. And not only that, but you will find in these matters of involvement greater wealth than you will ever be able to accumulate in material things. For then your life and your faith will coincide with your desire to know and to do the will of God.

Those of us who are watchers have come to realize that the road is longer than many of us expected it would be. But today we have seen some landmarks. We have seen some signs that the time is at hand; that it is nigh, even at the doors. And so in deep humility we think of our Master’s words, “Watch ye always, and pray that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all those things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” And again, in Mark 13:33, “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” And now just one more, Colossians 4:1: “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” Let us be thankful for the truth; thankful that the Lord has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light; thankful for God’s providences in our lives; thankful for the joy of being watchmen.

“Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Rev. 16:15) Some commentators say that in the temple, if a person was on guard he had to stay awake, because the head watchman would come around and see if he was awake or asleep. If he was asleep his punishment was to take his garments from him, and he would have to walk and parade naked with the other guards who had been awake while he was asleep.

“The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” And looking back, we praise the way that the Lord has led us all the way, and day by day, as we manifest in our lives the work of faith, the labor of love, and the patience of hope. So therefore, brethren, in conclusion, “What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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